Objectives and position papers
Improving the recruitment process
As part of the organisational restructuring effort, we are currently working to improve the recruitment and exmployment extension process for academic staff. With this in mind, we seek to elaborate a process description together with the University Executive and Human Resources (Division VIII). This should make the recruitment process more transparent and should be supplemented by a system of official notices.
The project was completed successfully. Those concerned receive feedback by e-mail during the recruitment process, which enhances transparency while safeguarding procedural efficiency.
Involvement in the Graduate Centre
As the University's central address for all organisational and interdisciplinary questions concerning doctoral and postdoctoral studies, the Graduate Centre is an important reference point for all matriculated doctoral students. In order to promote cooperation and streamline workflows, the members of the Representative Council for Academic and Artistic Staff advocated opening up the Graduate Centre.
The aim is to reduce bureaucratic hurdles and thus enable all matriculated doctoral students to become members of the Graduate Centre without having to apply in advance. As a member of the Graduate Centre's Advisory Board, the representatives advocated a needs-oriented programme. Particular focus is placed on continuing education and training adapted to the current needs of early career scholars.
The project was completed successfully. Graduate Centre membership is now automatic and no longer requires a separate application.
Supervision agreement and guidelines on employment and qualification
The German academic fixed-term contracts act (WissZeitVG), which came into force on 17 March 2016, is intended to improve the situation of researchers in academic positions (cf. DFG's handbook on the WissZeitVG, German text).
There is, however, potential for improvement regarding content for making academic careers more attractive. A working group under the direction of Dr Antje Stephan (Managing Director of the Graduate Centre), Klaus Hammer-Behringer (Head of the Human Resources Division) and Professor Harry Haupt (Vice President for Research and the Advancement of Early Career Researchers and International Matters) has drawn up a supervision agreement to improve the supervision of doctoral students. On the part of the academic and artistic staff, both the representative council with three deputies and the Graduate Centre were represented. The document is intended to be a prerequisite for admission and can serve as a guideline for a structured counselling interview that should precede any doctoral study. Labour law-related aspects can be discussed in a structured manner on the basis of this document to provide transparency and prevent unintentional misconduct.
General provisions concerning employment law that go beyond the requirements of the WissZeitVG must be stipulated elsewhere. The guidelines for employment and qualification conditions for early career researchers at the University of Passau (in German) also regulate further matters. This voluntary commitment is intended, among other things, to communicate the ethical standards the University has set for itself when dealing with science and employment contracts. In this way, the University can improve its own reputation as an employer, enhance its international reputation and support politicians in making academia more attractive as a career path.
The project was completed successfully. The supervision agreement has been approved and is currently being incorporated into the doctoral regulations. The employment and qualification guidelines have been adopted.
Affiliation of external academics
Networking with internationally active scientists and scholars is an important task of the University of Passau. For this reason, the representative council advocates the possibility of affiliating external academics with the University. The aim is to give the University's membership an international orientation and to establish a network conducive for teaching and research. This affiliation status is also attractive for former employees, for example, if results are to be published after a doctoral award, or such that the University's infrastructure can be used.
The guidelines for the affiliation of external academics are currently being revised.
The project was completed successfully. Affiliates are set out in the constitution (Grundordnung; German text) and numerous colleagues have already been appointed.
DFG voting right
In future, lecturers working as Lehrkräfte für besondere Aufgaben (LfbA) will no longer be excluded outright from voting in DFG review board elections. Instead, the burden of proof will be reversed and only persons who clearly do not conduct scientific research will be excluded from the assignment. The creation of the electoral roll is to be revised such that the question of whether or not a person conducts scientific research will be assessed regardless of their status as a lecturer or the limited term of their contract.
Additional members of the representative council in the governing bodies
The Representative Council for Academic and Artistic Staff has moved motions for representation by an additional advising member on the Senate and University Council and that a further position with voting rights on appointments committees be established on the Representative Council. Both motions were adopted and will become part of the next amendment to the University's constitution. Until then, the following interim arrangements are possible:
Interim arrangement – Senate and University Council:: The Senate and the University Council have approved the instatement of an additional advising member for the current term upon application.
Interim arrangement – appointments committee: Each faculty council will decide on instating an additional advising member for the appointments committee upon application for each committee individually.
In general, the Representative Council for Academic and Artistic staff advocates strengthening their right to have a say in the central bodies of the University (such as the Senate or the Extended University Executive).
Change in employment terms for academic and artistic staff
Effective 19 March 2014, the University of Passau will make use of the contract period of six years instead of the previous five as stipulated in the academic fixed-term contracts act (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz, WissZeitVG). See also the university circular on the WissZeitVG (in German):
'Das Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz bietet die Möglichkeit, die Arbeitsverträge von wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern, die nicht promoviert sind, bis zu einer Dauer von sechs Jahren zu befristen. Die Universität Passau hat diesen zeitlichen Rahmen, außer bei Drittmittel-Beschäftigten, bisher nicht ausgeschöpft. Es galt eine maximale Vertragslaufzeit von fünf Jahren (Rundschreiben vom 26. Juli 2002). Die Universität Passau wird ab sofort – soweit beantragt – die maximale Vertragslaufzeit von sechs Jahren ausschöpfen, unabhängig von der Finanzierungsart des Vertrages. Unberührt davon besteht die Möglichkeit, die insgesamt zulässige Befristungsdauer bei Betreuung eines oder mehrerer Kinder unter 18 Jahren um zwei Jahre je Kind zu verlängern.'
The academic fixed-term contracts act offers the possibility of limiting the employment contracts of academic staff who have not completed a doctorate to a maximum of six years. The University of Passau has so far not exhausted this time limit, with the exception of employees receiving third-party funding. A maximum contract term of five years had been applied (circular of 26 July 2002). With immediate effect, the University of Passau will – if applied for – make full use of the maximum contract term of six years, regardless of the type of funding provided by the contract. This does not affect the possibility of extending the total permissible fixed-term contract period by two years per child if one or more children under 18 are being cared for. (unofficial translation)
Position paper on the full exploitation of contract periods (in German)